Every year, 17 exceptional high school juniors and an educator from each school are selected as Bezos Scholars. Scholars are chosen from across the U.S. and the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. After spending a week immersed in learning at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Scholars return home and develop a community change project to make a positive difference in their communities.
Once selected, Scholars join a global alumni network where they are offered opportunities to connect, collaborate, get inspired, and take action for the greater good.
Each year, through a competitive application process, the Bezos Scholars Program selects a new group of Bezos Scholars. Twelve U.S. students and five students from the African Leadership Academy are chosen, along with a supportive educator from each school.
Successful applicants are public high school juniors and an educator from their school that have demonstrated leadership and aspire to lead change in their community.
Scholars build connections with peers and educators from across the U.S. and Africa, get inspired by global leaders, and collaborate with their communities to make a meaningful impact. After being immersed in learning at the Aspen Ideas Festival and engaging in year-long leadership development opportunities, Scholars ignite action in their schools, communities, and beyond by developing and executing their own community change project, known as a Local Ideas Festival (LIF).
Scholars have researched and addressed a diverse range of issues unique to their communities, such as mental health awareness and advocacy, civic engagement, STEM education, literacy, environmental justice, and refugee and immigrant rights and inclusion.
Scholars join the program with different lived experiences, strengths, areas for growth, levels of demonstrated leadership, and unique passions and interests. This diversity is one of the greatest strengths and learning opportunities with the program.
Throughout the year-long experience, Scholars build capacities associated with values-based leadership, social-emotional learning, and social innovation. Bezos Scholars Program outcomes are aligned with the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership—a quantitative research program that examines how to leverage learning and development both inside and outside of traditional classroom environments.